A New Decade Begins - Writing
Last night, I watched Doug Nichols 2017 documentary California
Typewriter. Any writer of any genre, any age and at any
stage of her or his writing career will love this film. It spawned
a Christmas memory from when I was 5 years old. I had made a
list of my fondest wishes: #1 I want a typewriter
Early on the 25th, with barely enough light to see my way to
the tree, I spied a package with my name on it that had to be
my typewriter. It was, but as I quietly opened it, I saw a small
red metal toy typewriter, with one wheel for selecting each
letter and a painted keyboard where a real one should have been.
I had imagined myself sitting with a real typewriter, pounding
on a keyboard and creating stories and poems.
I remember thinking that it was a good thing I had unwrapped
it alone, because I didnt want to hurt my mothers
feelings. She would certainly have seen my disappointment. In
hindsight, shed probably explain how much a real typewriter
cost and point out that my finger span wouldnt be wide
enough to reach the keys. At the time, I thought: a real writer
needs a real typewriter! Crestfallen, I realized that paper
and pen would have to do.
I knew I was a writer. Reading constantly made me realize that
I wanted to do what writers do. Instead of dolls, I brought
books to bed with me, not to read but to comfort me. I came
home from the library loaded down with the maximum number of
books allowed. The tools were already in my head: language,
memories, imagination, story, images.
Twelve years later, I bought an ancient typewriter to write
college term papers. Luckily, I had taken typing in high school,
but it took practice and strength to bear down on the clunky,
old keys. After college, I crated up all my earthly possessions,
weighty typewriter included, and moved from Buffalo, New York
to Concord, Massachusetts, then to Worcester and a life filled
with new manual and electric typewriters, followed by word processors.
Seeing California Typewriter made me yearn for one
of the beauties displayed so lovingly by collectors and caregivers.
To apply that key pressure, hear the resounding click and see
the letter appear on the sheet of paper
who knew that Tom Hanks was a typewriter aficionado?
Singer/composer and typewriter fan John Mayer is one of the
documentarys featured interviewees. He described his epiphany,
when he tried writing lyrics for the first time on an old typewriter.
He just let go and typed anything, without regard for spelling
and punctuation. Mayer came up with the most perfect description
about how the creative process feels, which I need to paraphrase:
When you are creating (song, painting, sculpture, poem, novel,
essay), its as if you are laying pavement and driving
on it at the same time. Absolutely perfect metaphor!
In 1997, when I left full-time teaching, I knew writing could
share a front seat with art making. I had a head start on writing
because poems, education-themed essays, dissertation and books
had been published. In these last twenty years, my horizons
have expanded: I have written more poetry and essays, with 3
more books published since 2000. Four years ago, I wrote a reference
guide used to train docents. I transcribed and edited someones
memoir that is now growing into another book. This year, I was
asked to write an introduction to an art catalog.
I also cant forget to mention that since 2004, this monthly
blog, Judys Journal, is a monthly opportunity to reflect
on my writing and artmaking life.
Marchs blog will be a look at my poetry writing, and the
differences two decades have brought.